Никто, кроме нас! (Nobody, but us!)
A review of Red Dawn: Soviet VDV Airborne Forces (Guest Writer: Asmizal)
With the release of Red Dawn book, I will be sharing my thoughts and comments on the Soviet forces included in the book. For this article we will be focusing on the new and exciting formation from Red Dawn: Soviet VDV Airborne Forces.
Soviet VDV Airborne Forces
Creation of VDV Airborne Forces / World War Two
The Soviet Airborne Forces or VDV (from Vozdushno-desantnye voyska SSSR, Russian: Воздушно-десантные войска СССР, ВДВ; Air-landing Forces) was a separate troops branch of the Soviet Armed Forces. Soviet Airborne Forces was one of the earliest documented airborne forces created by a country (USSR). The first VDV airborne forces parachute jump is dated to 2 August 1930, taking place in the Moscow Military District. They were planned as one of the armed forces components in Soviet Deep Maneuver Strategy; landing behind enemy lines to disrupt supply lines and disrupt enemy’s attempt to mobilize their forces against Soviet main attacks.
Figure 1 Da...Comrade which one is the ripcord?
Unfortunately, the officers’ purges by Stalin in 1938 cut short on further tactical evolution of the VDV forces. In World War Two, the VDV airborne forces had a checkered performance in their intended role (airborne operations) but was utilized more in a light infantry role when the Soviet army faced with manpower challenges due to the disastrous losses in the campaign season of 1941/1942 against Axis forces. By 1944/1945, VDV airborne forces accrued a reputation as an elite light infantry formation but there would not be any further large scale airborne drops for them in World War Two.
World War III
Fast forward to Red Dawn, The Soviet leaderships' decision to take the fight to the Americans committed three VDV Guards Airborne Divisions to battle. The 106th Guards Airborne Division was committed to the Pacific fleet landing force that would land on the coast of British Columbia, Canada, while the 7th and 76th Guards Airborne Divisions were deployed to Cuba to play their role in the Soviet led landings in Texas. In Europe remained the VDV 98th Guards Airborne Division stationed in Odessa, Ukraine. They could be committed to action in southern Germany, Italy or against Turkey. Stationed in Vitebsk, Belarus was the VDV 103rd Guards Airborne Division, elements of which had already been committed into Scandinavia. With elements committed to Afghanistan, and the division headquartered in Azerbaijan, the VDV 104th Guards Airborne Division remains in strategic reserve ready be redeployed where it is required.
VDV Airborne Forces in Red Dawn
VDV Airborne forces adds to the variety of playing a Soviet force in World War III: Team Yankee, as I type out, there an air of excitement on how we can play the VDV formations in upcoming games. Hopefully in later articles, I write up on how we can integrate them in other Soviet/Warsaw Pact/Oil Nations formations. Soviet airborne forces are equipped with BMD airborne assault vehicles. These can be parachuted in or delivered by transport aircraft to a captured airfield. Once on the ground, in the enemy rear, they fight as motorised infantry.
Figure 2 Speed is what I need! BMDs!
The VDV BMD Air Assault Battalion formation has given what the earlier Air Assault Battalion in World War III: Soviets lacks; mobility. In past games, the Air Assault Battalion were judged as being a “Glass Cannon” which relies (over rely) on their Hinds to destroy heavy armor or act an SEAD unit which degrades over time as your opponent grinds down your Air Assault Battalion Hinds and then proceed on to peel open your mostly static infantry list. (Though RPG-7VR weapon upgrade will make most heavy tanks think twice to assault them…)
Figure 3 Le Glass Cannon
VDV BMD Air Assault Battalion
As mentioned earlier, the VDV BMD Air Assault Battalion has given Soviet players with a Skill 4 mechanized formation that allows them to capitalize Movement Orders (Blitz!) and better Artillery range in rolls (vanilla 4+ rolls!). The formation itself is rock solid formation with integral artillery, armored support (ASU-85) and basic SPAA capability.
Your basic building block of VDV BMD Air Assault Battalion consist of trained troops (Skill 4+) which has the typical Soviet Morale and Rally rolls of 3+ that allows them to survive Bad Spirits rolls. Paired with better Assault (4+) and Counter Attack rolls (3+), will allow; like their Afghantsy Air Assault Battalion, good assault stats. As mentioned good usage of Movement Orders (Blitz, Follow Me) will allow your unit to come to assault range faster than your typical conscript comrades!
Options to add on the PKM, AGS-17 and SA-14 are good modular options, with me PKM and/or AGS-17 will be a no-brainer addition for an Air Assault Company, and SA-14 is a 50/50 preference for me if you wish to add on more base count or enlarging your AA bubble for your army.
Ahh to the wonders of motorization of the VDV Airborne forces, the BMD-1 / BMD-2 transport will now allow Soviet VDV players mobility that allows them to utilize different tactics over their NATO/Capitalist forces. With the same FA of 2 like the BMP 1/2s of the Soviet Motorized Rifle Company, the BMDs challenge will on how they can protect their side armor (1) against HMG fire, even normal MG (AT 2) fire will cause the BMD player to roll saves to avoid getting bailed out (FP 6 pffttt!!!) or worse destroyed!
The BMD-1 uses the 73MM 2A28 gun which in game terms acts like an infantry support platform with a respectable FP 3+, though it is ROF1. Against light vehicles, the BMD-1 gun can manage those threats though against Tier 1 IFVs such as M2 Bradleys or Marder 2s, their HEAT weapon will be impotent against those Chobham armor. That’s where the At-3 Sagger ATGM comes in, beware of the MIN range of the Sagger ATGM (16”), in most cases BMD-1s will need to choose to support infantry attacks OR as mobile light ATGMs in most games.
The BMD-2 was designed based on the painful experience from the Afghanistan war where the 73MM 2A28 gun turret were found to have limited traverse and were unable to give support fire in the mountainous region of Afghanistan. The BMD-2 featured 30MM 2A42 gun which has better traverse capability and allows high fire output on their targets. In game terms the BMD-2 is versatile platform to act as mobile anti-helicopter AA platform as well as light vehicle hunter since they are not using HEAT ammo. Against Tier 2 and below tanks, their AT-5 Spandrel ATGM can deal most threats with AT21 and covering a wide swathe of the table top with their 48” range. Again beware of their MIN range of 8”. BMD-2 can be utilized well in the same roles as BMD-1 though their main gun and ATGM will work fairly well against helicopter heavy armies.
Both BMD-1 and BMD-2 can be used in the Soviet tactics of Bonegruppa role where bunch of BMD-1/BMD-2s seek an open flank to cause havoc on unsuspecting SAM or Artillery parks of your opponent. They can also seek to dwindle down IFVs from afar before letting your modern Soviet tanks (T80s, T72Bs, T64BVs) clean up the survivors. One thing to avoid is letting them go into assaulting dug-in infantry ( or even open infantry) as their SA cannot stand even normal MG shots.
The BM-37 Mortar Platoon will be celebrated as Battlefront’s first inclusion of static artillery unit in World War III: Team Yankee world. Though it looks small, the Mortar Group rule (one base is considered as two guns) will allow this unit to range in without any modifiers at full strength (2 bases). And *squeal of joy* they can range in at a basic 4+! This will allow Soviet players to have a dependable artillery unit to drop smoke in their plans rather than buying a BM-21 Hail battery and praying to the dice gods to roll that awful 5+ vanilla roll! The BTR-D transport, plays a nice supporting gun support role against infantry assault, just park them within supporting defensive fire of your infantry comrades. If else, they can join in lobbing AGS-17 grenades onto infantry targets with accompanying assaulting infantry during shooting phase to pin those capitalist troops.
The 2S9 NONA-S has a lot of promise build for this game. Good Skill 4+ for range in with good artillery stats (AT 4, FP 3+), the NONA can be the artillery of choice in most Soviet lists. Coupled with the BMD-1 OP, it will allow unprecedented Soviet artillery power (ok…a little bit excessive but you know Soviet players has been sucking at 5+ range in). Please do not go Gung-Ho with the AT20 direct fire since your armor is not even build like a T55 but in emergency armor breakthrough, that side shots of AT20 will definitely help.
The ASU-85 assault gun was created to support infantry attacks and by the era of World War III: Team Yankee, this tank is actually verging being obsolete. Though you can create a blob of 10 tanks for a mere 11 points, I will need more motivation to field them on the table. ROF 2 and FP 3+ does give a glimmer of hope for infantry support, but the fact their ammo is HEAT variant means against most Tier 1 IFVs, they may not be as useful as I think. If you wish to use them for flank movements and target juicy targets, go give this unit a try.
The old reliable BRDM-2, something that will be useful for Spearhead and it is parachute capable (more on this in future article hopefully). Though it is great with Skill 4+ thus allowing Blitz moves to be more reliable. But I can always opt for the cheaper Skill 5+ on the support units. But hey, it is 1 point difference. Take your pick.
I lump together both BTR-RD and BTR-ZD together as they are my flavor to use in my future VDV armies. BTD-RD has AT capability at a cheap 3 points for 3 tanks but it will not fare well against heavy Tier 1 tanks. It does have a secondary capability as anti-helicopter though at +1 to hit. With Skill 4+ I can see this unit to pull a shoot and scoot roll and with a cross 3+ that mean the unit can sit in a wooded terrain to snipe at armored targets.
The BTR-ZD will be a poor man’s AA platform, and yes, your economical alternative to the ZSU-57s or even the Praga! With paper thin armor of ZERO, this unit will need to practically side in a nice terrain and hope nobody drops any munitions on them. Yes, the ZSU23-2 guns will definitely help to deter off helicopters, but against any strike aircraft, they are more likely to be the target of SEAD. If push to shove, you can use them as anti-infantry or anti light vehicles platform.
VDV Afgantsy BMD Air Assault Company
These guys are the real deal, veterans from the Afghanistan War, these badass Soviets are here to show how elite Soviet troops perform! Well I will want you to re-watch Rambo III to see what I mean…but don’t watch how Rambo pwned them…
As you can see, VDV Afgantsy BMD Air Assault Company HQ has Skill 2+! And their accompanying BMD infantry has a Skill 3+ which makes them good assault troop except for the fact they have a max of 6 bases (3 x infantry, 3 x RPG) which makes any attempt to assault a standard NATO infantry platoon (7 bases) a risky move, even with the fire support of their BMDs. Do note their BMD mounts are still Skill 4+. One creative way to use them is to use their Skill 3+ to pull some maneuver move (Blitz) to get close side shots with their RPG-7VR against big juicy tank targets.
Figure 4 We will show those Conscripts how REAL SOVIETS fight!
A surprise in the Afgantsy BMD Air Assault Company list is the BM-37 Mortar Platoon is indicated as Skill 3+ which makes a good unit to lay down cover fire and smoke bombardment. BUT at an exorbitant increase of 3 points. I may not in favor using this unit as my smoke and bombardment team as it’s usage versus costs is inefficient.
Ideas to play VDV BMD Air Assault Battalion / Afgantsy BMD Air Assault Company
From high overview, you may want to use the VDV BMD Air Assault Battalion as atypical Soviet BMP rush albeit with better Skill and Assault stats. I can see a combo of both formations to use as a combined mechanized infantry formations (Hammer & Anvil style…) that force your opponent to choose on which unit to spend their defensive fire, the “average” VDV Air Assault team or the “Vets” Afgantsy Air Assault team.
As mentioned earlier, the BMDs can use Soviet Bonegruppa tactics to scour the table with fast and hard-hitting attacks on your opponent’s soft targets whilst supporting the VDV assault infantry after using the valuable Skill 4+ artillery to soften the target and smart usage of smoke bombardment to mask your infantry assault from defensive fire. Or perform stand-off fire with your Sagger and/or Spandrel ATGMs to whittle down armored targets, before finishing them off with those nasty RPG-7VR tandem warheads!
In future articles I may write up more on how to integrate these formations with other Soviet / Warsaw Pact / Oil Nations formations but for now, I am pleased on the new formations added to the Red Club!
Слава Советскому Союзу! As they say in Russian. I am looking forward to play these formations in my local community and hopefully we will touch more on other formations in Red Dawn Book.